Liquid News

IRWD Declares Level Two Water Shortage

As drought worsens, IRWD finds new ways to save water.

On Monday, July 13, the Irvine Ranch Water District Board of Directors declared a Level Two Water Shortage. The declaration  reaffirms the steps that IRWD customers need to take to help the District meet the Governor’s mandate to reduce drinking water use by 25 percent statewide. This is the first time in the history of IRWD that a Level Two Water Shortage will be declared.

“This declaration is a direct response to the severity of the drought in our state,” said IRWD Board President, Steve LaMar. “We are doing everything we can to reduce our dependency on drinking water supplies and are asking customers to help in this effort. In addition, we are asking customers to cut their outdoor water use in half and embrace ‘Brown is the New Green.’”

IRWD has been tasked by the state to reduce drinking water use throughout the service area by 16 percent, which equates to the need to save approximately 2.6 billion gallons of water, or almost 3,950 Olympic-sized swimming pools. This challenge can be met if all customers do their part to save water.

To assist in these efforts, IRWD has reduced the outdoor water allocation, which is now based on drought-tolerant landscaping rather than warm season turf. IRWD hopes these changes will persuade customers to let their lawns go brown and switch to water-efficient landscaping by taking advantage of the Turf Removal Rebate, which offers $2 per square feet of grass removed, up to 3,000 square feet.

IRWD customers can take these steps to help reduce the use of drinking water and keep their bill low:

  • cut outside watering in half
  • let your water-thirsty lawn go brown
  • get ready to install drought tolerant landscaping in the Fall
  • and fix water leaks which are often a hidden cause of water waste.

To get customers used to the idea of letting their lawns go brown, ads promoting “Brown is the New Green: Cut Outdoor Water Use in Half” are now featured on buses, shopping centers, and in movie theaters across the IRWD service area. A letter and “Drought Survival Guide” were mailed out to residents in early June. Workshops on how to use the right plants, the right schedule, and the right equipment for a water-efficient landscape are held on an on-going basis (check for dates) and a Drought Survival Expo will be held September 12 at IRWD, featuring workshops and landscape demonstrations.




 Level One Water Shortage Measures Already in Effect:

  • Prevention of irrigation run-off and water waste;
  • Leak prevention;
  • Ban on washing down hard or paved surfaces, except when necessary to alleviate safety or sanitary hazards;
  • Ban on the use of non-recirculating decorative fountains or water features;
  • Ban on single-pass cooling; and
  • Ban on the use of a hose for vehicle washing unless the hose has a positive, automatic shut-off device.

Level Two Water Shortage Measures Included in the new Stage Two Declaration:

  • Customers shall reduce potable landscape watering by up to 50 percent;
  • Swimming pools shall be filled to a lower level to minimize water loss due to splashing.
  • Discretionary maintenance requiring refilling of swimming pools shall be prohibited. Filling newly constructed pools and refilling pools for required, non-discretionary maintenance are not subject to the ban;
  • Commercial conveyor and in-bay car wash systems must reuse water if equipped to do so;
  • Recycled water shall be required for construction activities, including earthwork, dust control and clean-up. The District may, at its discretion, waive this requirement if it can be demonstrated to the District’s satisfaction that compliance with the requirement imposes undue hardship;
  • The use of recycled water is required for street sweeping activities. The District may, at its discretion, waive this requirement if it can be demonstrated to the District’s satisfaction that compliance with the requirement imposes undue hardship;
  • Common interest associations shall not fine or assess owners of separate interests for reducing or eliminating the watering of vegetation or lawns, unless the association uses only recycled water for irrigation of the association’s common areas and recycled water is also available at the irrigated area of the separate interest.
  • The District, by separate action, shall implement demand management measures through adjustments in the allocation-based pricing structure (On June 22, 2015, the Board adopted No. 2015-17 implementing such adjustments).

For the latest information on the drought and how it impacts IRWD customers, visit

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